Addiction is defined as a chronic disease with a high probability of relapse. When a person fits the criteria of addiction, he or she can be diagnosed with physical and psychological dependence upon at least one mind-altering drug or life-impairing behavior. The ability to stop using drugs is diminished, and every aspect of the person’s life can reach incapacitation.
The use of OxyContin negatively impacts the entire central nervous system. The influence on the body and the brain decreases a person’s ability to make good choices. OxyContin addiction begins to affect relationships, commitments, and responsibilities as the drug begin taking daily priority. When abuse crosses over into addiction, jobs are lost, schoolwork falls by the wayside, relationships crumble, families are torn apart, physical and mental health deteriorates, and even legal consequences can begin dictating a person’s life.
While this process can happen for any drug, the cycle of addiction is most difficult to break for opiates and opioids. The drugs in this classification alter brain chemistry as they relieve pain and create a euphoric high when taken in higher doses than physically necessary. Without an intention of addiction or even abuse of the drug, thousands of people find themselves fitting the criteria for OxyContin addiction.
A well-cited definition of addiction includes these five criteria:
- A Loss of Control over substance use;
- Obsession with substance use;
- Continued use Despite Negative Life Consequences;
- Denial of a problem with substances and/or behaviors; and,
- A powerful tendency to relapse back to substance use.
When used in an example, a person who has become addicted to OxyContin is unable to stop taking pills on his or her own. Each day this person is obsessed with finding the drug and using it, and even after this behavior has caused adverse life consequences (i.e., loss of a job, complete financial devastation, or the end of an important relationship), OxyContin use continues.
Through all of this, the addict denies that there is a problem with OxyContin, sometimes in some form of, “I need the drug to treat my chronic pain.” Denial is very powerful, and so is OxyContin. Even when use stops, whether the person admits a problem with the substance or not, someone who can be diagnosed with addiction returns to the drug or relapses, often after just a short time of cessation.
Symptoms of OxyContin Addiction
Whether for you or for a loved one, this list provides signs and symptoms of addiction to look for in someone who is taking OxyContin:
- Feeling physically sick when the supply of OxyContin is gone. (i.e., withdrawal symptoms)
- Engaging in illegal activity to get OxyContin.
- Increasing the amount of OxyContin taken each day. (i.e., increased tolerance)
- Experiencing feelings of guilt or shame about OxyContin use.
- Losing a job, failing out of school, or losing a loved one because of OxyContin use.
- Changes in eating and sleeping patterns.
- Mood swings.
Additionally, in an effort to feel a satiable high again, many opiate addicts will combine alcohol, marijuana, cocaine, and other pharmaceutical drugs with OxyContin. This signals drug addiction. The act of combining chemicals is extremely dangerous because drug interactions in your body are unpredictable and, therefore, high-risk and often life-threatening. Via several famous opiate addicts, like Heath Ledger, Cory Monteith, and most recently, Philip Seymour Hoffman, we see just how easily prescription pills, heroin, and the mixture of several drugs can lead to an untimely death.